We have never experienced such a sudden and dramatic period of change as businesses.  Looking ahead is difficult, because we don’t know what the next month will bring, let alone the next 3 or 6.  But there is hope on the horizon and we are talking to clients about how we seize this moment. How we can help them achieve a faster recovery with a robust plan and focus.

Nearly every business in every sector has seen a drop in income, for some that income has vanished overnight. Getting the recovery right will be critical in this next stage of the pandemic, to get your business in the best possible position.

Get the cash flowing

Cashflow is the life blood of every business and it’s the one thing worrying everyone we speak to. There are many people reviewing lease arrangements, reducing their office space, and selling unwanted assets to top up cash reserves.

If you haven’t done it already, now is the time to review your payment terms and work with clients to renegotiate payment agreements.  Staggered payments, incentives for early payments, rewards for loyalty are all measures that create a more even flow of cash, and a predictable income.  If you have deferred VAT payments, taken on loans or taken advantage of payment holidays, it goes without saying that that money needs to be ring fenced and factored into your cashflow forecast.

Service industries have been very badly hit and we are getting a lot of queries from bars, restaurants, hotels and leisure clients desperate to get customers back through the doors.  With restriction still in place, we advise open and honest conversations with customers; implementing beat the queue systems, shared risk deposits and up selling rewards for those that choose not to cancel.

Focus on confidence

The fear v confidence dilemma is with us for a while and balancing risk is a key issue for customer-facing industries.  However, this is a fantastic opportunity to show strong leadership and build your company’s reputation.

If you take the initiative and adopt a positive attitude, customers tend to follow suit. If customers see you are being proactive and putting early safety measures in place, you will instantly stand out in their mind.

You can install confidence screens and pods in venues such as hair and beauty salons, and start designing traffic systems around your shop bar or restaurant to show what customers can expect. Talk about the risk assessment planning you are carrying out and that safety is a top priority for your business. And why not give customers a chance to ask questions and make them part of the design process.  Keep the communication lines open!

Collaborate across sectors

In the PR and marketing industry we have been sharing experiences, ideas and challenges, and the mutual support has never been stronger.  We’ve seen the same within retail, travel and hospitality and this move away from competition, and towards collaboration, will really help us through the next 6 months.

But now is also the time to cross those boundaries and partner with other industries to kick start recovery even further. A good example of this is bars and restaurants working with performers, illustrators working with retail and lifestyle industries, chefs working with FMCG markets.  Pairing skills and industries together in a way people don’t expect is a sure-fire way to spark creativity and get people talking, and spending their money with you first.

Learn the lessons

We don’t want to bring the mood down. but we do want to make sure we learn from the lockdown period and keep businesses as safe and as sustainable as possible. This does mean keeping one eye on further risk and protecting your business against any future lockdown.

Part of a successful recovery is looking at what worked well, what internal, as well as external factors, damaged your business and making changes.  We all have areas of weaknesses, and indeed we are all guilty of complacency.  It’s true that we can’t control everything but we should tighten up our strategy, improve crisis response procedures and work together to put plans in place.  You must have a marketing strategy, but you must have a plan B. Bring reactive, not proactive is just no longer an option for any business.

If there is something you want to talk about in relation to the pandemic, get in touch, we would love to hear from you